UPCAT 101: A Complete Guide For The Aspiring Iskolar ng Bayan | Edukasyon.ph
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UPCAT 101: A Complete Guide For The Aspiring Iskolar ng Bayan

This year, UP moved up to the top 101-110 universities in the Asia-Pacific Region based on the  Times Higher Education (THE) Asia-Pacific University Ranking. The university also remains to be the best in the country! UP’s legacy of excellence, service, and honor makes the school a top choice among Filipino students.

But to enter UP, students have to get past the hurdles of the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT)—the most anticipated college entrance exam in the country.

To become a full-fledged Iskolar ng Bayan, you have to be at least one of the top 15% of the total number of examinees. True enough, UPCAT is a battle of wits.

To kick off your UPCAT journey, check out this comprehensive guide and take note of the reminders and requirements that you will need for your college application!

What is the UPCAT?

The University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) is the entrance examination for senior high school graduates who want to enroll in the University of the Philippines (UP).

Depending on the availability of the course and the applicant’s performance, students who pass the UPCAT will be able to apply to one of the UP campuses nationwide: 

Who can apply for the UPCAT?

  • Senior high school students expecting to graduate from a DepEd-accredited high school or an accredited secondary school abroad, or
  • Graduates of a DepEd-accredited high school or accredited secondary school abroad
    • Must submit final grades from first year to third year high school,
    • Must not have taken any college subjects before, and
    • Must not have taken the UPCAT before

What topics does the UPCAT cover?

The UPCAT is a five-hour examination that consists of 4 subtests: Language Proficiency (in English and Filipino), Reading Comprehension (in English and Filipino), Science, and Math.

Your UP Admission Grade (UPG) will be composed of two criteria:

  • Your UPCAT score, and
  • The weighted average of your last three years of high school final grades

UP also considers socio-economic factors such as your family income, high school, and location.

What requirements do I need to submit?

Category of Applicant Requirements
ALL applicants Four (4) recent 2X2 identical photographs


Completed UPCAT forms

IF high school graduate High school diploma
IF graduating in 2019 from a local high school DepEd Certificate of Recognition or Permit to Operate
IF transferee (i.e. has taken subjects from another high school) Certified clear photocopy of the Permanent Secondary School Record (F137) from other school with all the grades earned within
For foreign applicants only Proof of payment of UPCAT application fee


How can I apply for the entrance exam?

Step 1. Fill out the UPCAT Form 1 online or manually.

Step 2. Give the UPCAT Form 2 (Secondary School Record) to your high school principal or school head to be filled out.

Step 3. FOR NON-FILIPINO APPLICANTS ONLY: Pay the UPCAT application fee.
The non-refundable UPCAT application fee is P450 for resident foreign applicants studying in the Philippines and  US$50 for non-resident foreign applicants.

Step 4. Submit the completed UPCAT Forms 1 and 2 and all other requirements to either of the following offices:

  • UP Diliman Office of Admissions
  • Selected regional UPCAT application filing centers in  UP Baguio, UP Cebu, UPEP in Pampanga, UP Los Baños, UP Iloilo, UP Tacloban, and UP Mindanao

Step 5. Claim your test permit.

How do I study for the UPCAT?

Struggling in algebra or reading comprehension? Work on subjects you don’t feel confident about. You can also make it a habit to practice at least 10 algebra problem sets every day, or read at least one short story a day. That’s right, baby steps!

Once you fully understand the concepts, it will be easier to apply them. The best way to test if you already understand a lesson is by explaining it to someone. Give it a try!

Conduct a mock exam on yourself. Look for books or online reviewers and set your timer. You can also try the free UPCAT review online and access downloadable e-books, an e-review portal, a discussion forum, and a social media group!

What should I keep in mind during exam day?

  • Make educated guesses.

Lee Anne Valencia, Electronics and Communications Engineering student from UPD shares, “Sagutan lahat para may at least 25% chance ka na tumama.”

UPCAT has a right minus ¼ wrong policy; every wrong answer is equal to a 0.25 point deduction.

Although you won’t get a minus for leaving an item blank, it’s still wiser to make an educated guess.  

  • Learn how to move on—from one question to the next.

“Don’t linger too much on a question. If you really don’t know [the answer] and you don’t have much time left, pick an answer instead of just skipping,” says Debbijonne Marasigan, a European Languages major from UPD.

  • Don’t forget to bring your test permit, two good quality pencils, sharpener, rubber eraser and snacks.

  • You’re not allowed to use cell phones, calculating devices, or cameras during the test.

How does UP choose its exam passers?

UP ranks its applicants based on their UP Admission Grade (UPG), choice of campus, and course. Disclaimer: Passing the UPCAT doesn’t guarantee your acceptance into your program of choice.

How do I qualify for a degree program?

Let’s say your UPG qualified for your first campus choice: UP Baguio.

  • If your UPG satisfies the required grade of your first choice of degree program, then you’re good to go! If not, you’ll be screened again for your second choice.

If it’s a quota course (a.k.a. a course with limited slots), there will be strict screening, for sure!

  • What if you didn’t meet the cut-off grade for both your course choices? You’re still qualified for a UP campus, but you’ll get a result of “degree program with available slot” (DPWAS or DPAS). Don’t worry, the campus you qualified into will help you find a program that can accommodate you. 
  • What if you didn’t qualify for your first choice of campus (ex: UP Baguio)? You’ll be referred to your second choice (ex: UP Los Baños).

But if you still didn’t make the cut, not all hope is lost! Keep reading…

What if I didn’t pass the UPCAT?

Never lose hope! If you didn’t pass the UPCAT, there are other ways for you to get in to UP:

  • Re-apply.

You can appeal for admission to another UP campus if your UPG is within the campus’ posted cutoff grade and your preferred degree program has available slots.

Present the non-qualifier’s slip (i.e. non-admission letter) to the registrar’s office of the UP campus you want to enter—though there is no guarantee of your acceptance.

Here’s the minimum UPG for appeals for each UP campus:

– Diliman No appeals
– Iloilo 2.7
– Los Baños 2.8
– Manila 2.580
– Visayas 2.7
– Mindanao No appeals
– Open University 2.8 

  • Transfer to UP after studying in another college or university.  

You’ll have to earn at least thirty-three (33) academic units and maintain a 2.0 grade or higher, depending on the required grade of your program of choice.

We’re rooting for you, future Iskolar ng Bayan!

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